Having the greatest player of our generation on your team is an absolute privilege and wasting a year of his seemingly eternal prime is a crime against humanity. So how can the Lakers make this year matter. Don’t get me wrong, for L.A.’s fans it matters big time, but how can the Lakers give Lebron a real chance at ring number four in his 16th season? Here are some big time deals that take the Lakers to the top.
It’s easy to imagine a scenario in which the Raptors under perform and Masai Ujiri finds himself looking to cut bait and avoid coming away from the Kawhi deal empty handed. If this unfolds how I imagine, the Lakers will be waiting. While any indication from Leonard’s camp that he’ll be theirs in 2019 might cool their trade efforts, it may still be worth claiming their man and avoiding a Paul George situation. At the trade deadline it could become clear that Kawhi won’t stay in Canada and that could plummet his trade value. Where the Spurs wanted Ingram, the Raptors will have to settle for some combination of Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and a likely late first round pick. Losing young pieces could cause some L.A. fans to cringe but in reality the addition of Kawhi crowds the roster and would likely push the young talent further down the bench regardless.
Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report has reported that Jimmy Butler is open to the idea of joining the Lakers. It's not our first hint that the Wolves star may want out. It is rumoured that he has been unhappy with the effort and attitude of his young star teammates in Minnesota. Applying pressure to Coach Thibs and the Wolves front office might just lead to an early exit from one of the leagues perennial underachievers. Butler’s fierce, competitive nature could be the missing ingredient for any team with hopes of dethroning the Warriors but how would he mesh with the Lakers' young core? If he can get through the banter, and the kids put in the work, it could be fine but won't likely be a problem if L.A.were to ship Lonzo or Kuzma out in return.
Like Butler, it has been publicly reported that Damian Lillard “is open to the idea” of joining LeBron. Dame’s three point shooting and ability to run the point would crowd out Lonzo, who would likely leave in the trade, but the improved deep threat and outstanding clutch factor that comes with him would be an incredible fit with LeBron (see Kyrie Irving). Unlike Butler and Kawhi, Lillard is under contract beyond this season and the price the Lakers would have to pay would likely exceed anything they've been willing to part with during the Magic/Pelinka era.
While Kawhi is likely the consensus top choice of most fans, there is no doubt that the addition of any one of these All-Stars would greatly improve the Lakers' chances of meeting the expectations set by their long history of winning. One thing L.A. has, however, is time. It seems the Lakers are more than content to start the season gauging what they have in their young core and watching as LeBron and his surrounding cast work to find the chemistry needed to succeed. Who knows, this could all fit just right and we may have to wait until the summer of 2019 for their next big addition.
Who would you like to see wearing the purple and gold next year?